What would you require if you "selected your church members"?

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by TexasSky, May 11, 2005.

  1. TexasSky

    TexasSky
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    Years ago I was invited to visit a "bible church" that some friends attended. It seemed to be fairly typical of more conservative Baptist churches during the service, but after the service it took a rather "large" swing away from the average Baptist church and its kind of nagged at my mind for awhile.

    You see, when people answered their alter call they were told, "you need to meet with a member of our board of elders before we determine if you may join us or not." This "board of elders" then proceeded to fire a long series of questions at the poor candidates for membership.

    They were asked to quote scripture. They were asked the order of the books of the bible. They were asked some deep theological questions.

    I thought - how many really great Christian Evangalists and Ministers and Deacons could have passed that kind of a test when they were "young Christians," and where would they go to learn these things if no church would take them.

    So, I'm curious - How do you feel about such things? What would you "require" for membership in your church if your church decided to have people fill out applications to join the church?
    What do you think Christ would have required?
     
  2. Gold Dragon

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    "Easy believism" is one problem. "Difficult believism" is another.
     
  3. av1611jim

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    Were people answering the "altar call" for salvation or for church membership?

    I, personally, see a huge difference these days.

    In HIS service;
    Jim
     
  4. TexasSky

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    Jim,

    Of course there is a difference in Salvation and Church Membership, but .. if you aren't going to allow new Christians into your church because they don't know enough - where are they going to learn it, and how are you going to teach it to them?
     
  5. gb93433

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    I heard a very evangelical pastor speak years ago and in the church he pastors they required the prospective member ot have led one person to Christ.

    We have too many Bible illiterates who are members. I have met too many who I found out later who were not even Christians. In a large Baptist church I attended one of the deacons came forward to receive Christ. He had been a deacon for several years.

    When D.L. Moody sought membersship they required a certain knowledge of scripture before he coulkd joing the church. Many churches years ago would gives grades in Sunday School.

    Members should be active in Christ's service and be nature enough to answer basic questions regarding their faith. There are many members who cannto even answer basic questions and give their testimony. Every member should be required to give reasons for their faith.

    On the flip side my wife and I were married in a church that did not believe in membership. They believed that those who are Christians should be busy doing God's work not placing their membership like in an Elk's Club. That church believed that if people wanted to serve God, membership would make no difference. A membership does not motivate people to serve. I have met too many people in the community who when I ask if they are a Christian they say respond by saying, "I am a member at ..." It may have been the same church I was pastoring and I had never met them before. In that same church every worker was interviewed by the elders of the church before they would be asked to oversee anything.

    One thing I really liked is that voting was not a popularity contest. When the pastor would stand up to announce the need for a deacon or elder he would go through the process that would be taken. All nominations would be made in writing and dropped in the offering box located by the exit doors. Once the name was received and approved by the pastor then the person would be first interviewed by the pastor. Once that was done then the person's name would be brought before the elders. After that then the person's name was brought before the congregation and time was given for anyone to contact and elder or pastor about the person. If there were no objections then a time would be set up so the congregation could comne and ask questions with a moderator present. The first thing the moderator would do is ask the person to give their testimony. It was a great way to get to know the person better. It also allowed the congreagtion to see part of the process and be assured the person was a person who was above reproach and was examined carefully. All of the elders and deadcons were people you could trust not only in the church but outside of the church. The church wanted to make sure that the person was one who carried a godly testimony both inside and outside of the church.

    If oyu exoect nothing you get nothing. If you expect mediocrity you get just that. If you expect excellence you get respect and excellence.
     
  6. TexasSky

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    Your wrote: If oyu exoect nothing you get nothing. If you expect mediocrity you get just that. If you expect excellence you get respect and excellence.

    Shouldn't it be about what God wants?

    Should we hold the church members to a higher standard than Christ held them? He didn't give them tests on scriptures.
     
  7. TexasSky

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    Another thought -

    Who gets to determine "what enough" knowledge is?

    I've been a Christian longer than 90% of the elders or deacon body of most of the churches I've been in.

    I've memorized whole chapters of bible.

    I've taken more seminary courses, just to learn more about God's word, than most ministers with Ph.D.'s in divinity have.

    I can read both Greek and Hebrew. I have studied, in depth, how various translations of the bible came into being, and various theologies. In order to better save souls, I've studied other religions so I could answer their questions. I've done various forms of mission work for decades.

    BUT - I don't feel qualified to determine who "knows enough" and who doesn't. And if I was qualified enough to make that decision, where should I put the bar? Does the fact that Lord called me to certain tasks that someone else doesn't believe they are called to make me right and them "not good enough?"

    Should I set myself up above the Godly men of my church who have only been a Christian for ... say.. five or ten years?
     
  8. Liz Ward

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    It seems like a good idea to me. I think most churches are far too lax about who they allow to become members.

    Liz
     
  9. gb93433

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    I think what lies behind your question is what makes it much easier to make a case for no membership. The actual members of a body are those who are members of Christ's body the chruch and not some name on a roll at a building called a church.

    I see no higher standard than what Christ commands when he said we are to deny oursleves and take up our cross daily and follow Him.

    Jesus did spend three years with His disciples giving them both knowledge and intensive training.
    God wants men and women who are living a life of obedience to Him.

    Christ did give a qualification for membership.

    "For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven."

    "Not everyone who says to Me, `Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. "Many will say to Me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, `I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'

    "And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it."

    Personally I think it is good to have a membership class so that people can come and know what the church believes and what membership is all about. Then the deacons or elders should interview each person and ask the persn to give their testimony. Every person should be able to give some kind of a testimony of belief.

    People should know what being a member is all about in the local church and in the universal church.
     
  10. gb93433

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    Length of seat time in the pew should not determine qualifications for membership. There are some people sitting in pews who actually have a fair amount of knowledge but are disoebdient and some may even be non-believers.

    Regarding how much is enough: I think the catechism Spurgeon used is a good example of the basics. Often little kids learn those things.

    However I feel that often the biggest mistake we make and would end these kinds of problems is that in so many churches we count nickels and noses and not disciplemakers. So often we talk about how many kids we have physically but not spiritually.
     
  11. Jeffrey H

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    I don't have a problem with this. It could be a little over-the-top, but I respect it. Most "Bible" churches that I familiar with have an application process for membership that includes meeting with one of the Elders (or Pastor) for a personal interview. This is no big deal to me. It's a good process when a church leader wants to meet with you face-to-face and ask you about your basic fundamental beliefs.

    Using this method, a church will probably not experience rapid growth, but mature growth. Membership is a commitment to the local church and should bring with it a basic knowledge of Christian doctrine. If we don't like that process, then we can go somewhere else or just continue "attending".

    [ May 11, 2005, 02:40 PM: Message edited by: Jeffrey H ]
     
  12. av1611jim

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    Who said anything about not allowing them into church?
    All too often, many churches let someone into membership who has no clue about salvation (not to mention the other doctrines of a particular body) and this has led to many, many problems.

    An unregenerate membership is what has led many a "Baptist" church down the road of liberalism and apostacy.

    I would never bar anyone from attending all services a church had nor would I bar them from "educational" classes within the church. But when it comes to membership, we must hold the prospect to a certain basic understanding of what we as a local body believe and teach, in addition to a clear testimony of salvation. There just is no way to ensure this without an interview with the Pastor/Deacon.

    To expect them to have "seminary" understanding is unrealistic but they should be required to understand what are the doctrines of the church to which they are applying. To accept less than that is IMO, lunacy.

    And besides all this; why would anyone want to join an organisation they know nothing about? The best route, IMO, is teach them in disciplship classes as part of the process. In this way, they are better able to make an informed decision as to whether or not they want to be afilliated with that particular church.

    In HIS service;
    Jim
     
  13. exscentric

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    Someone once said Holy mediocrity is still mediocrity.

    The question not answered is what level did the church in question require for membership. Did they require full knowledge or were they seeing where the person was spiritually so they could assist them along?

    I once heard a woman accepted into membership on a testimony that appauled me. "Well, I ah ah met Jesus when I was twenty."

    I think salvation/baptism is the Biblical standard from the book of Acts, but I think we fail miserably when we don't ask folks to take a basic doctrine class if they aren't grounded in the basics.

    I've run across some churches lately that have an ongoing membership series of Sunday School classes that they ask all new members to take part in.
     
  14. TaterTot

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    Well there definitely needs to be a line. Not too legalistic, but its not just a social club.

    We have people that "are members" but they never attend and live very contrary what Christianity should be. They could help oust a pastor, or use the church facilities (since they are "members", but they sure dont want to pay the price for right living.

    So, there definitely needs to be a line, just where that should be is the difficult issue.
     
  15. Shiloh

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    "SAVED" If they are really saved everything else will be ok.
     
  16. dianetavegia

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    Couples living together who are not married are not accepted for membership.
     
  17. Dina

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    >>It seems like a good idea to me. I think most churches are far too lax about who they allow to become members.<<


    Wow, I'm glad God doesn't think that way.
     
  18. Jeffrey H

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    In our church a few years ago, it was proposed that those seeking membership should take a series of "orientation classes" as a requirement for membership. Sadly, it was met with strong opposition from "traditional" Baptists that thought it would turn people off and hinder church growth. The "traditional" Baptists got their way, but we did not experience numerical growth by the keeping membership rules easy. In fact, we experience the "revolving door effect" -people easily join the church and they easily fall away because they don't understand the commitment to their church.
     
  19. StraightAndNarrow

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    Personally, I think that new believers need to stand in front of the church and make a confession of faith. It doesn't have to be a theological treatise. Christ said that if we don't have faith like that of a small child we will never enter into His kingdom. Too many times it's "Do you believe in Jesus," "Yes", up goes everyone's hand and they've joined the church.

    We have a Deacon discuss a new believer's faith after the service and a new believer's class before baptism. After that it's up to God to separate the wheat from the chaff.
     
  20. TexasSky

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    So,

    If the church is an exclusive place - who gets to determine who is good enough?
     

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